Five Things Every Grammarian Knows by Heart (part one)
Unlike most languages, which have relatively respectable grammars, English does not. English is a mutt. With its Germanic origins and Latin and Greek influences, English is not, by any means, grammatically harmonious. English doesn’t follow a single set of grammatical patterns. And a rule with exceptions is not really a rule. It is, however, an immensely powerful language. Why? In large part because of its grammar. If writers were a class of people and each specialty had a rank, then grammarians would be very near the highest ranked in their command of the English language. Words are merely a coherent collection of letters. It is grammar that brings a text to life.
Take this paragraph for example. Each sentence has five words. Five words quickly become boring. A monotone voice is heard. The reader’s eyelids become heavy. They begin to nod off. How incredibly boring this is.
Now, if you would be so kind as to take a look at this paragraph. It has the same number of sentences as the one before. It does! But don’t you see it? See how the words dance on the page–how the voice lilts and emphasizes certain, specific, words? That is all because of grammar, my friend. Grammar, that magical force, is what gives this paragraph life.
Still, many people see grammar as this constraining set of nonsensical rules that exists solely to squander their voice. On the contrary! If vocabulary is the words, then grammar is the body language. Combined properly, you can engage in pleasant conversations, persuasive arguments, enlightening analyses, and an overall symphony and ballet performance on paper.
Here are five quick tips that every grammarian knows by heart to help you orchestrate your next written concert.
Four major functions
1. nominal -to function as a noun
2. adjectival -to function as an adjective
3. verbal -to function as a verb
4. adverbial -to function as an adverb
Four minor functions
1. pronominal -to function as a pronoun
2. conjunctive -to function as a conjunction
3. prepositional -to function as a preposition
4. appositive -to function as an appositive
Slots on a sentence diagram are for functions, not forms
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